LONGVIEW — Widespread malicious software attacks locking up computer systems have forced some local dental offices to cancel or reschedule appointments over the last week.
The July 3 attacks affected customers of PM Consultants, a Portland-area IT consulting and support company, including Lower Columbia Oral Health. Arbor Dental in Longview and Vancouver and Longview Family Dental also were cyberattacked, but it was unknown if they are PM customers. (Representatives from both clinics did not return phone calls for comment.)
It’s unclear how many dental offices the software attacks struck. Calls to PM Consultants go straight to a message regarding the ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.
“We’re working to recover backup data, but due to the size and scale of the attacks we’re not optimistic about a full or timely recovery,” the message says. (The phone system did not accept messages.)
The recording thanks customers for their patience and recommends seeking outside assistance to recover data.
Lower Columbia Oral Health employees in Longview noticed the problem the morning of July 3, when they were unable to access dental software. Daniel Haghighi, Lower Columbia dentist, said the virus did not compromise patient data but made it inaccessible.
Lower Columbia cancelled all appointments on July 3 and have seen only a limited number of patients this week. The office hired a new IT company, Den-Tech, to help resolve the problem, Haghighi said.
Cameron Willis of Den-Tech said the business has gotten multiple calls about the virus, but he declined to say how many or where the dental offices are located. He also said he didn’t want to speculate on the cause of the virus.